SONIC KICKS: Darren Cross

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Defiantly independent and creatively driven, Darren Cross is always seeking new ways to translate his ideas and influences into music. Whether it was in the heady days of indie/electro guitar punks Gerling, as a DJ and electronic music producer, as one half of folk noir duo Jep and Dep (with Jessica Cassar) or as a solo artist.

Under his own name he’s released two solo albums that have both blended and negotiated a harmonious co-existence between neo-folk acoustic guitar and Kraut/psych pop songs from a parallel universe. _Xantastic was Springsteen and Kraftwerk meeting at the crossroads while last year’s PEACER found Cross broadening his palette into more meditative folk and hypnotic cosmic dance vibes. It’s a wonderful collection of songs, always pushing and pulling and questioning musical conventions. The possibilities are endless in Cross’ world and his genius resides in the ability to pull the disparate melodies, rhythms and lyrical ideas into conventional song formats.

You can catch Cross on tour with fellow sonic traveller Jamie Hutchings through NSW in March and April as well as a show at the Petersham Bowling Club on March 10th with The Finalists and The Ramalamas.

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SONIC KICKS: THE ALBUMS THAT SHAPED ME

 

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The first album I bought.

Maybe The Young Ones with Cliff Richard… it had ‘Living Doll’ on it. I thought the Young Ones were so cool!!

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An album that soundtracked a relationship.

Tortoise – TNT – I guess being in a band is a relationship right? This was Gerling’s interstate driving album. Such a great album and such a buzz that we supported Tortoise twice. Disco dancing with half of them after the shows was a rite of passage to me anyway!

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An album that inspired me to form a band.

Probably AC/DC – T.N.T. but seeing Angus Young on Rage doing a live guitar lead at an early AC/DC concert that sounds like the foundation of ‘Thunderstruck’ really blew me away. AC/DC were the bad gang’s music at my high school.

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An album that reminds me of my high school years.

As a whole, probably Nirvana’s Nevermind, but that’s boring! I also really loved Living Colour’s VIVID. ‘Cult of Personality’ really blew me away. My friend gave me cassette of the album.

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An album I’d love to hear live and played in full.

David Bowie’s Blackstar, but it’s impossible now. I loved the album when it first came out, just before David died. I love the songs and the especially the production. Always next level. A great gift to leave us. x

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My favourite album cover art.

My Bloody Valentine – Loveless. it looks exactly like the album sounds. Also Pavement’s Slanted and Enchanted– The artwork on my new album PEACER is a nod to those two albums! Early 90’s – all about magenta man!

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A guilty pleasure album.

Cyndi Lauper – Essential Collection. I actually just did some shows in Europe and the album was on a plane music playlist! I forgot how great she is – her vibe, songs, voice and look. So great!! Not too guilty I guess, but yeah she’s done a few of those TV talent shows that made me wanna puke but 80’s Cyndi is top notch!

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The last album I bought.

Sleaford Mods – Austerity Dogs on vinyl. My friend in Berlin played this too me just recently at 4am after I had just played some shows on my latest Euro tour. I bought it the next day. Fucking amazing. FIZZI are my fave band this week.

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The next album I want to buy.

Best of Tony Joe White. Another friend in Berlin did the same thing – whacked the record on the record player at 6am after a solid night of boozing! I know BT from Love Police toured him in Sydney a few time but I never made it before he passed away! Such a great album. Super groovy, almost Krautrock beats sometimes. A converted disciple I am now!

NEW MUSIC: Aldous Harding – The Barrel

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Aldous Harding has announced her new LP Designer and shared the first single/video from it – ‘The Barrel’.

The new record follows her critically acclaimed 2017 album Party and was again produced by John Parish. It hits stores and online on April 26th via 4AD and Remote Control Records.

Aldous Harding – Designer

1. Fixture Picture
2. Designer
3. Zoo Eyes
4. Treasure
5. The Barrel
6. Damn
7. Weight of the Planets
8. Heaven is Empty
9. Pilot

NEW MUSIC: These New Puritans – Inside The Rose

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UK group These New Puritans return with ‘Inside The Rose’, the second single (and NSFW video) from their forthcoming new LP of the same name, due out March 22nd. It’s their first album in six years and saw the band record in Berlin, London and Southend-on-Sea, before mixing it in Los Angeles.

The group have reverted to the original duo of brothers Jack and George Barnett and from the sound of this track, the album could be quite a special set of songs, built on heady, emotive dynamics and a blend of organic and digital instrumentation that bring to mind Wild Beasts, Japan and Depeche Mode.

ALBUM REVIEW: The Beasts – Still Here

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The Beasts
Still Here
Bang! Records / Rocket

A new album from the remaining members of the Beasts of Bourbon (under the name The Beasts) is a bittersweet thing in light of the passing of bassist Brian Hooper and more recently Spencer P. Jones. The name of the band and the album are self explanatory and though there’s enough to justify the band coming together to record new music and tour, there’s the unavoidable sense of a band operating on dwindling returns.

The album was recorded only a couple of weeks after their last gig with Hooper and is made up of songs formed from, in their words, sketchy ideas plus some jams and covers. Jones is there, but he only made it onto one track, the slow and swampy blues crawl of At The Hospital.

Things get off to a good start with the one/two punch of Perkins’ On My Back and Kim Salmon’s heavy grunge/garage-rock track Pearls Before Swine. Both possess the right amount of grit and sleaze, worthy additions to the Beasts’ canon of work. Warren Zevon’s My Shit’s Fucked Up gets a passable workout, as does Zappa’s The Torture Never Stops, which fares better with its loose and queasy sound.

It’s All Lies and Your Honour sound like half-baked ideas – one-riff jams that were fleshed out long enough to justify calling them songs. The flip-side to them is the shadowy drone and grind of Don’t Pull Me Over, a sign of the band’s willingness to still effectively explore the avant garde end of primal rock n roll, an inner city cousin to Springsteen’s Nebraska. 

What The Hell Was I Thinking sounds like a late-night Rolling Stones jam and gloriously so. Searing electric slide and acoustic guitars weave a drunken dance while Perkins laments his actions in his wonderful country howl and croon.

All in all Still Here is a flawed beast but I guess they always were weren’t they. That was, and remains, the band’s charm. A collective throwing together of ideas that works often and fails sometimes.

Chris Familton

NEW MUSIC: Sungaze – New Familiar

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Kick off the week with a dose of shoegaze courtesy of North American group Sungaze. It’s the warm season in this part of the world and this track, ‘New Familiar’, suits the weather perfectly with its warm, bucolic strum, hazy and blissed-out vocal and the light-tripping rhythm section. There are touches of Ride and The Charlatans in the dreaminess of the band’s sound.

Doubtful Sounds Presents: The Ramalamas, Darren Cross, The Finalists @ The PBC

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Hey, we’re putting on a gig! Yep, we go to so many gigs and we know a good lineup when we see one so we’re putting on a Sydney show with three great acts. There’s a personal disclaimer with this in that I play bass in The Finalists.

Head to The Petersham Bowling Club on Sunday March 10th and you can catch the cosmic country, psych rock ‘n’ roll of The Ramalamas, the sonic alchemist that is Darren Cross (think a future folk version of Leo Kottke meets lo-fi, psychedelic, avant pop) and newish Sydney group The Finalists who blend twelve-string Rickenbacker jangle with post-punk and indie psych rock.

Plus a specially curated DS playlist between bands.

Petersham Bowling Club
The Green Room (downstairs)
Sunday March 10th
3PM $10

 

NEW MUSIC: Kayla Painter – Sacrificial Magic

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Bristol-based Kayla Painter has released a new EP called Cannibals At Sea. Taking influence from her mixed British and Fijian heritage, Painter creates a hypnotic and mystical piece of experimental music that takes in tonal explorations, drone, ethereal vocal layers and electronic and traditional instrumentation. The result is mesmerising, haunting and alluring.

NEW MUSIC: Pardans – Hookers (with Hidden Depths) & Over The Moon And Beyond

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Here are two live studio session tracks from the Danish jazz-punk quintet Pardans. They’ve been together since 2015 and draw equally from the jazz world of Ornette Coleman and the darker, knottier sounds of post-punk and Captain Beefheart. There’s a great intensity and drive in these songs – woozy, rambunctious and lurching, like Birthday Party falling down the stairs at a jazz joint.

‘Hookers (With Hidden Depths)’ is the single from their recently released album Spit & Image.